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31 Oct 2017
Rita for The Guardian
Rita Ora on breakups and burnout: ‘There were helicopters. I woke up in hospital’ . A legal tangle with Jay-Z couldn’t stop the former child refugee from earning millions as a singer, actor and presenter – but exhaustion did. She discusses how hard it is to have it all, and why she worked with the notorious Terry Richardson
Rita is on cover of LEGEND Magazine for June 2017! I’ve added photos from photoshoot and cover to gallery:
Rita Ora is among Britain’s biggest celebrities, loved for her attitude and her range as an entertainer. She featured on tracks with Drake and Craig David, and vied to be Britain’s representative at the Eurovision Song Contest late in the 2000s, making her name as a singer. The big time beckoned and in the five years since 2012, she has seared her name across every centimetre of cyberspace as a singer, all-round performer, and star of the big and small screens.
She was everywhere, presenting on The X Factor, The Voice UK and America’s Next Top Model. As an actress, she’s held her own in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and has another movie on the way. As a fashion designer, she’s spent years working to devise product lines for Adidas and Tezenis. Ora’s background helps keep her grounded. Her parents were Albanian refugees who left Kosovo during the war there in the 1990s. Their sacrifices are always with her.
We met Ora at her suite in the W Hong Kong. She’s hungry for success ahead of a new album and, well, just hungry. She invited us in to share a veritable carbohydrate castle of pizza, burgers, quesadillas and French fries. In between bites we talked about music, sexuality and her quarter-life crisis.
She’s won over Jay Z and Madonna and has Hollywood banging at her door. Now Simon Cowell has signed her up as a judge on The X Factor. Stephanie Rafanelli talks to Rita Ora about break-ups, frenemies and making music with Prince
Rita Ora has a knack for inspiring devotion from musical legends. While recording in London last year, Prince wrote a paean, ‘Pink Champagne’, dedicated to her ebullience. Then he summoned her to his Paisley Park HQ near Minneapolis, resplendent in ‘a mustard-coloured poloneck, purple flares and an amazing black Afro. I’ve never seen a man who wears heels get so much female attention. He is sexy in so many ways,’ Ora declares, after striding into an East End studio, wearing the kind of platform boots that would make his royal not-so-highness proud, if a little envious.
He had invited her to record among the doves that he keeps in his studio: ‘We just wrote a bunch of music, laughed and danced.’ There, the poem evolved into ‘Champagne Kisses’, a song for her forthcoming second album. ‘If music had a face, it would be Prince.’
When Ora was still an aspiring teen musician, her mother once told her prophetically: ‘Not everyone will wish you well, but those that do will have more power than those that don’t.’ It could be the motto of her career. Her list of powerhouse mentors include Jay Z, who signed her at 18, and Beyoncé, her ‘sister from another mister’; Madonna, who chose Ora as the face of the fashion line Material Girl for S/S 2014; Tom Ford, who dressed her for this year’s Met Ball — ‘He’s a swaggy, swagger gentleman’ — and Harvey Weinstein, who, after her small role in this year’s Fifty Shades of Grey, is championing her acting career: ‘Harvey’s got my back and I’ve got his.’ And now Simon Cowell, who last week poached her from the BBC to join Nick Grimshaw on the new and improved X Factor panel, replacing Mel B. All this with less than three years in the mainstream public consciousness and, hitherto, only one solo album under her belt.
Rita Ora has a plan. The magazine covers, fashion (Roberto Cavalli) and beauty (Rimmel London) endorsements, clothing line with Adidas Originals, campaign with Coca-Cola, even performing a nominated song (“Grateful”) at the Oscars are all testimony that the plan is working. “Oh, it is in full effect. We’re these conniving Kosovan hungry bitches,” Ora says of herself and her older sister, Elena Sahatçiu, who is also her manager. “I knew that one way or another, I was going to do things my way.”
On playing the house diva behind the turntables while her parents thought she was going to sleepovers: “I would rip my T-shirts and be really punk and not clean. And I would have blonde hair, really dark eyebrows, red lipstick, lots of fake rings that made my fingers go green. I wouldn’t be smelling that great…. But me and my friends, we were really, like, rebel-y. I feel like I lived a lot when I shouldn’t have.”
On dating: “I’m afraid of being alone. I’m not afraid to admit that, you know. I’m not embarrassed to admit that. I just hope it’s not a never-ending cycle. Sometimes love just makes you feel crazy. And that feeling that we have as girls, just to have that feeling, even for five seconds, it’s like crack. I mean, don’t compare it to that, but you know what I mean. It’s like comfort eating.”
On her recent breakup: “There was a reason why I split up with him. And there was a reason why I’m at this point in my life where I feel like I have so much musical freedom, and I don’t have to explain myself to anybody… It was more of a thing where I was in awe. I was at that point in my relationship where I felt he could do no wrong. I thought he had my back and that he’d never steer me wrong. But then “I Will Never Let You Down” came out, and everything started to go a bit weird. I don’t know if it was because business was mixed with personal or what.”
On playing a drug addict who attempts to seduce a boxer played by Jake Gyllenhaal in Southpaw: “I arrived on the set, and the makeup artist said, ‘You’re kind of ready to go onstage.’ I’m like, ‘You know I’m playing a crack whore?’ Which shows: Don’t look at me when I’m waking up.”
On recording three songs with Prince: “He came to London about a year ago and his manager contacted my management, and he said, ‘Hey, Prince is in town.’ I was like, ‘What prince? Like the royal family prince? I wouldn’t care about that prince. I care more about actual Prince Prince.’ And he was like, ‘Actual Prince.’ I said, ‘Oh, my God!'”
On patience: “I’ve had to have a lot of patience. Because there have been times at night where I want to pull my hair out and just put my music out for free on the Internet and just say fuck everybody. But then I have this conscience saying no, be smart, be strategic. There are ways of doing things and still getting your way. If I’m going to do Rita Ora, it’s going to be Rita fucking Ora. It’s not about who is on my album or who’s featured or the names. It’s about a solid body of work that I can call my own.
Read the full interview—and see all the photos—in the July issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands June 23.
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